September 28, 2017

A lovely day. I took myself out for breakfast, which is always nice. The coffee is good, not the pathetic excuse for coffee I create most mornings. I just don’t have the knack. Sadly.

I felt the urge to do some math so I figured out how many rolls of toilet paper I would need before departure. Twenty-one. I knew you’d want to know.

I hiked my usual route, scared the bears off with my choice of music. I’ve never known a bear to like Andrea Bocelli’s version of The Lord’s Prayer though they may enjoy the beat of Bruno Mars Uptown Funk. Nothing says hike like The Lord’s Prayer. I jest.

When I had climbed to my highest lookout point, I turned my gaze below me and watched the tractors and graders and loaders working at the river’s edge, readying for winter I suspect. West Dawson is a community on the other side of the Yukon River. During freeze-up and break-up these residents are stranded on the other side of the river until the ice is firm enough to support an ice road. So it is during October that they stock up on supplies and groceries and I was told they don’t consider this a hardship, but rather a welcome challenge to have isolation and hunker down, a bit like a self-imposed hibernation. I’m not sure how long they must wait for the ice to be firm enough but I’m thinking it would be a reasonable length of time what with the current in the river being as strong as it is.

A couple of ravens were having their Thursday meeting on my roof this morning and I was quite certain a couple of elephants were wandering around up there. I expected one to crash through into the living room, but alas when I went out to check it was just ravens and they looked quite pleased with themselves before flying away.

The leaves have mostly gone from the trees and the bright yellow beacon of the birch have faded, I’m sad to report. I feel a slight trepidation for what is to come, weather wise. I’d best buckle up.



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September 25, 2017

The day started out a bit dreary, overcast and rain off and on, but by afternoon it had cleared and was quite lovely out so … I took to the Ninth Avenue Walking Trail. Every day since I got here I have been admiring the white lichen that grows in abundance at the top of the trail beneath the Moosehide Slide.


It is as if lace is growing on the ground. This is Caribou Moss (Cladina species). I found this: “Lichens absorb their food and water through their surface cells, making them an easy target for pollutants in industrial areas.  An area with a healthy lichen population is one with pure clean air.” Well, it grows in abundance around Dawson City so .. I’m guessing the air is very pure and clean here.

caribou moss

caribou moss 2


Remember that building I took a photo of but had no idea what it was and further study was required?  Well, it is the:

Palace Grand Theatre sign

The Palace Grand Theatre has been under restoration for the past two summers and it is hoped to be operational next year. The townspeople are looking forward to the opening of this wonderful theatre.

The Palace Grand Theatre was built in 1899 and was a “lavish theatre in the wilderness”. The Dawson City gold rush boom died almost as quickly as it started. As a result, Arizona Charlie Meadows (who built the theatre) sold it for $17,000 in 1901, which was less than a third of its original cost of construction. “The Palace Grand Theatre was saved from destruction by the Klondike Visitor’s Association in 1959 and was donated to the National Historic Parks branch of the Canadian government, who began replication of the theatre in the early 1960’s.”


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September 23, 2017

I had an adventure today. I went along with students from the School of Visual Art in Dawson City and we boarded a lovely bus with Jeffrey Langille at the wheel and we headed off through the fog to Forty Mile, the oldest settlement in the Yukon and where the Tr’ondek Hwech’in had their first settlement.

foggy start Sep 23

We were on our way to the Tr’ondek Hwech’in Fall Harvest Camp. I wasn’t sure what to expect, what it was they would be harvesting. But once I arrived I thought to myself, ‘Ahh yes, of course.”

They were harvesting moose and fish to be ready for winter. The young woman explained to us how they use all the parts of the moose save a small piece of hide and a few internal organs. They thank the moose for giving his life to sustain them and sharing the meat is of utmost importance.

We saw the first Mission School in the Yukon at Forty Mile.

first Mission School 40 Mile Sep 23

And a short distance from the school was the first Northwest Mounted Police detachment.

first Northwest Mounted Police station at Forty Mile

And then next door to that was the Telegraph Station. The site is a designated Heritage Site and interpretive signs provide information as to the original stories of Forty Mile.

original telegraph station Forty Mile

Forty Mile community is where the Fortymile River flows into the Yukon River. A rainbow welcomed our arrival.

Fortymile River at Yukon River at Forty Mile

The Yukon River upstream from Fortymile River.

Yukon River at 40 Mile Sep 23

And then we were on our way home.

path in to 40 Mile

The fog had cleared for the drive home. And one does get the sense that we were at the Top Of The World. An absolutely lovely day


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September 19, 2017

There was a bite to the air this morning as I took myself out for breakfast and to buy a loaf of bread from the bakery. The food at the Cheechako’s Bake Shop is delicious and as I sat eating my breakfast patrons were discussing their upcoming escape to a warm relaxing climate involving a beach, a well-earned rest after a very busy summer, no doubt. I will be sad when the Bake Shop closes in a few weeks.

Riley, a local gardener who takes care of the Berton House flowers etc, came yesterday and pulled out the withered plants and tidied up the gardens. She had her able-bodied four-legged assistant with her. She picked me a lovely bouquet from the remaining blooms. So very thoughtful.

bouquet from garden

So I walked … and walked … and

 view from Moosehide Slide Sept 19

ferry Sept 19

Yukon River Sept 19

This building has been restored, but I don’t know by whom or for what purpose.  Further study required.

building Dawson Sept 19

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September 18, 2017

Another day of hiking. No frost last night so the day warmed up more quickly. The temperature isn’t at its peak until about 3:00 in the afternoon and then cools down much slower than I am used to at home. The Ninth Avenue Trail has many signs warning of bears. If I was hiking with someone I wouldn’t have to be faster than the bear, just faster than my hiking partner. I would choose wisely. I know, …

bear sign

So I play the music on my iPhone for noise. I’m pretty sure the bears won’t like my choice in music and will run the other way. And I most certainly don’t play The Teddy Bear’s Picnic.

birch trees

We’ve had no wind or rain to speak of since I arrived so the leaves are clinging. I can hear Jim Gaffigan, the comedian, in my head doing his fall leaves routine and I laugh right out loud thinking of it.

ferry on the river

I am now talking to myself with my Ewen McGregor voice so it could be quite possible that I am losing my mind in my solitary confinement.  Or maybe I lost it many many years ago as some might attest.

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September 17, 2017

Another hiking day. As I strolled along the Yukon River I came upon the crew taking the Paddle Wheel out of the river. Four large caterpillar tractors were on hand to pull the 100 ton boat out of the river. Impressive maneuvering.

paddle wheel 1

And now she is parked for the winter, a sure sign that summer has gone.

paddle wheel 2

I continued my hike. My dear friend Judith told me that “early succession trees in northern boreal forest are birches, alders, and aspens” and this is why the leaves are all yellow and not the reds as I am accustomed to. Having said that, the birch is my favourite tree on earth so I am very happy to be surrounded by them.

beautiful birch

On my usual Ninth Avenue Trail hike I came upon one little red bush and I have no idea what it is aside of its leaves are a bit maple shaped.

one little red bush

I am clinging to autumn. “Please don’t hurry on your way, Autumn. Please!”

clinging to autumn

The ferry was loading up with cars as I strolled past. I like to think they are all headed to The Top Of The World Highway that one day I hope to explore.

ferry riders




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September 16, 2017

The furnace is repaired. I now have heat that turns off when not required and I don’t have to use the breaker panel to keep from being cooked alive. So good news!

Yesterday was a bit of a bust. A sleepless night as insomnia raises its ugly head. I blamed the heat, but I fear the responsibility lies with my busy brain. This morning while I sip my less than perfect coffee I am watching the sunshine creep up the hill to me. I am in the shadow of the “mountain” on which stands Moosehide Slide. It’s a bit like watching the tide come in on Fundy. I look away and when I look back, the sunshine has crept even closer. Remember playing “What time is it Mr. Wolf?” and trying to creep as close to the “wolf” before he shouts “time to eat you” and you run back to the starting line before he can grab you? I think the sunshine is engaging in the same kind of play with me. I love the sunshine. I must express my affection for it because before too long it will be very hard to find.

So yesterday was a stay in day for the most part. I took photos of the inside of the house to remind me that someone had a sense of humour.

First off, is Pierre Berton’s typewriter. Very cool. Inspiring.

Pierre Berton's typewriter

The typewriter sits on a table beneath the side window in the living room right next to a plant that I must try to remember to water. Plants in my house are usually gasping for a drink and I only notice them when a remaining thread hangs over the side of the pot like a limp sleeve from a pair of pyjamas. I can’t be trusted when it comes to potted plants. I gave up long ago. We can’t be all things.

sense of humour 1

I’m not exactly sure how long the Irish Whiskey has been here on the Berton desk, but safe to say I won’t be sampling it. As I sit and write and it catches my eye I do giggle. And is there really such a thing as a tortured metaphor? Aren’t all metaphors tortured?

Sense of humour 2

Two pillows adorn the comfy chairs in the living room, an absolute sign that someone stayed here with a healthy sense of humour. And Truman Capote was quite right. There are days when I am merely exercising my wrist as what appears on the page has no resemblance to writing.

Sense of humour 3

I think Hemingway was quite familiar with the bottle and so perhaps I should heed his advice, though it may be late in the game to change my personal practices.

One shelf of Berton books.jpg

This is just one shelf from the library of books written by Pierre Berton. He wrote fifty. I’d have to live another thousand years to match that record, so I won’t bother to try. I most certainly will read some though and then I can take a piece of Pierre Berton home with me and consider him a friend.

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